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Wearable Computing? – Types & Challenges

What is wearable computing?

Although the term ‘Wearable Computing’ sounds little unfamiliar, with Apple Watches hitting the markets now people are getting quite used to the wearable computers. A wearable computer is an electronic device which can be worn by a bearer on his body. These devices constantly interact with the user and provide necessary and important information.

Types of gadgets include

The first wearable was invented in the form of abacus on a ring in 16’s. Since then, there has been a huge amount of research to provide variety of devices. Mentioning the recent ones:

  • Head gears – Google Glass
  • Smartwatches – Pebble, Pebble Time, Gear by Samsung, Apple Watch
  • Fitness bands – Microsoft Band

Image : Google Glass

The challenges of wearable computing

‘Always on’, consistent, multi-tasking and context aware wearables face some peculiar challenges.

  • Battery life – In spite of continuously communicating to smartphones and other devices they should offer good battery life.
  • Fashionable – As they are ‘worn’ by the user, they should be designed with good fashion sense. Masses should be ready to give up their fashionable accessories for the sake of a tech gadget.
  • Uniqueness – People always hunt for ‘something different’. Wearables should offer something unique to the users which catches their attention and would make them unique in the crowd.

Image : Apple WatchGlass

What it brings to my plate?

  • Intention and action – Wearables are context aware i.e. they are aware of user’s surrounding and hence there is very small gap of time when user intends to do something and takes necessary action on it e.g. looking at the appointment in calendar, a wearable prompts you to start your drive for the meeting and it can even show you an optimum route based on the latest traffic information. Services like Google Now play very important role in such situations.
  • Gateway to augmented reality – Google Glass is a very good example of blend of wearable computing and augmented reality which enhances user real time experience by extending the reality and use of natural language.

Future scope

  • Military use – Head gears have already found their use in military.
  • Prosthesis – Specially abled and elderly people are benefitted with increase in use of wearables
  • Fashion designing – Microsoft’s ‘printing dress’ prototype has demonstrated use of wearables in fashion designing.

Apart from these, wearables have also found their use in behavioral modelling, health care systems etc.


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